People who leave a coercive religious group face a huge struggle, thousands of young people have been brought up in religious traditions where ‘coming out’ as not believing can lead to threats, shunning, psychological abuse, discrimination and physical harm.
Deciding to leave a religion can often mean rejection from your family and community, with little understanding of where to turn next. ‘Apostates’ as these people are sometimes called, may end up homeless, isolated, and at risk of profound mental health issues.
Apostasy has not been comprehensively studied and statistics are hard to find. Faith to Faithless commissioned a survey in 2018 that showed that 93% of apostates in the UK become atheist or humanist, 45% experience significant mental health issues, and that two thirds experience physical harm or threats.
For many years, apostates have been a hidden minority and public service providers have had little understanding of the issues they face.
Many organisations feel they lack the expertise to support ex-religious people who use their services and want to develop knowledge of the issues these people face.
People leaving home and attending University, may have, for the first time, an opportunity to explore the questions they may have about faith, or to live in in a more authentic way in line with their beliefs. They may not be able to be open with their family or friends about their loss of faith.
In reading and listening to the testimony of apostates, a recurring theme is that University was a critical time in terms of leaving their faith.It is therefore critical that Universities are aware of the issues faced by apostates and are able to support them.
The training lasts half a day and will be delivered by experts in supporting apostates. The training covers;
- Awareness of the most common issues faced by apostates
- Referrals to relevant organisations that can help apostates
- Language and helpful / unhelpful ways to talk about apostasy
- Ways in which apostasy differs from some other forms of religious discrimination
- Safeguarding implications specific to your practice
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield, S1 1WB